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Combustible Dust Standard Is CSB’s First ‘Most Wanted Safety Improvement’

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

As of now, no federal combustible dust rule has been released, and the CSB is taking steps to increase pressure on OSHA to issue one.

In 2006, in the wake of a series of deadly major explosions and fires caused by combustible dusts, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued a set of recommendations for controlling these hazards.

Just 2 years later, a combustible sugar dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Georgia, killed 14 workers, and the CSB renewed its call for federal OSHA to “proceed expeditiously” on its dust standard rulemaking. But the rule remained uncompleted.

In 2011, three iron dust-related flash fires at the Hoeganaes Corporation facility in Gallatin, Tennessee, killed five workers. The CSB added metal dusts to its recommendations and urged OSHA to issue a proposed rule within 1 year.

CSB’s Most Wanted

The CSB is not a regulatory agency. It is an independent federal agency that conducts root cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities. Based on its findings, the CSB makes recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

To better advocate for the adoption of its recommendations, the CSB created a program in 2012 to identify its “most wanted” changes list. The CSB’s “Most Wanted Safety Improvement” program is modeled on a similar one used by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) another independent agency that makes recommendations to industries and regulatory agencies.

The program is intended to highlight safety issues identified by accident investigations and increase industry, congressional, and public awareness about these priority issues and recommended safety solutions.

In July 2013, the CSB named its first Most Wanted Safety Improvement: a general industry combustible dust standard. The CSB will strongly advocate for such a program to be implemented within the next 3 years.

In 2013, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revised many of its standards that deal with combustible dust including NFPA 654-Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids and NFPA 499-Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas.

OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR)—a request for information to be used in creating a standard—relating to combustible dust, on October 29, 2011. Progress has since stalled; OSHA did not list this proposed rulemaking on its most recent regulatory agenda.

In California, however, a standard regulating combustible dust already exists. The state’s General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) Section 5174 requires employers to:

A “yes” to all five questions means discipline is probably justified, although you will likely want supervisors to discuss the matter with you before taking action.

  • Control ignition sources
  • Practice good housekeeping
  • Collect and segregate dust at the point of generation